The march to Augusta began in earnest last week at the Honda Classic, the first stop on the PGA Tour’s new-look Florida swing, a group of tournaments that will have a Corona-with-lime flavor this year given this week’s detour to Mexico City.
Most of the world’s best will contest the WGC-Mexico Championship, save Jason Day, who pulled out Sunday with the flu. All eyes will be on Rory McIlroy, who’s expected back after more than a month off with a rib injury.
In five weeks, McIlroy will renew his quest to complete the career Grand Slam by winning The Masters, the “toonamint” that thus far is the white whale in a brilliant career. Whether you agree or disagree with Rory’s decision to play golf with President Trump, it’s clear that his performance south of the border will be an early indicator of his fitness to contend for the green jacket.
With victories at Pebble Beach and Riviera, respectively, Jordan Spieth and new world No. 1 Dustin Johnson have emerged as Masters favorites. And with his Honda Classic triumph at PGA National on Sunday, Rickie Fowler inserted himself into the pre-Masters conversation.
The 28-year-old Californian shed his “overrated” tag in 2015 by winning three times worldwide, including the Players Championship. He won again in Abu Dhabi early last year and climbed to fourth in the world ranking, but his 2016 season ended before the Tour Championship.
Fowler was shaky on the front nine Sunday but pulled away with three birdies down the stretch. With the azaleas and dogwoods beckoning, it appears Rickie has gotten his groove back at just the right time.